Laboratory-grown blood has been transfused into people in a world-first clinical trial that researchers say could revolutionize treatment for people with rare blood types.
So far, two UK patients have received small amounts – the equivalent of a few tablespoons – of blood grown in a lab to test how it works in the body.
The test aims to compare the lifespan of cells grown in the lab transfusion of normal red blood cells from the same donor.
“We hope that red blood cells grown in the lab will last longer than those from blood donors,” said Professor Cedric Ghevaert, principal investigator at the University of Cambridge. “If our trial, the first of its kind in the world, is successful, it will mean that patients who currently require frequent blood transfusions for long periods of time will need fewer transfusions in the future, helping to revolutionize their care.”
The trial, with research teams in Bristol, Cambridge, London and NHS Blood and Transplant, focuses on red blood cells which carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Starting with the donation of a pint of blood from an adult, mMagnetic beads are used to extract transformed stem cells that can become red blood cells. These stem cells they are placed in a nutrient solution for about 18-21 days, encouraging the cells to multiply again develop into mature cellsthen directed to become red blood cells.
One lake for about 500,000 stem cells result in 50 billion red blood cells. After filtering those 50 billion red blood cells, the pool is reduced to 15 billion cells and they are in the right stage of growth to be transplanted.
Blood grown in the lab is tagged with a radioactive substance, often used in medical procedures, to monitor its lifespan in the body.
“We want to make as much blood as possible in the future, so the idea in my head is a room full of machines that constantly produce normal blood donations,” University of Bristol Professor Ashley Toye. he told the BBC.
Although the trial is still in its early stages, the bulk of blood transfusions will always depend on donations.
“The need to donate regular blood to provide more blood will continue. “But the power of this work is very beneficial to the transfusion of patients,” said Dr. Farrukh Shah, medical director of Transfusion for NHS Blood and Transplant, and partners in the project.
The production of lab-grown blood cells will be of great benefit to patients with blood conditions such as sickle cell anemia. In general, the body rejects any treatment if blood is not exactly the same, which can be difficult for them with unusual blood. This level of tissue matching goes beyond the well-known blood groups A, B, AB and O, reports the BBC.
Professor Toye said some groups are “really rare” and “maybe only 10 people in the country” can donate.
“This world-leading research lays the foundation for the production of red blood cells that can be used safely for transfusions to people with diseases such as sickle cell,” said Dr. Shah. “The potential of this work to benefit patients who are difficult to pump is very important.”
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Lab-grown blood used in humans in world’s first clinical trial
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